$iliconWood the New Hollywood — Suede Sunday

Suede Sundays are a series of articles that will focus around publishing general and interesting thoughts and views on the world around us. Ranging from book reviews to opinion pieces, the objective is to get differing arguments and see where the story takes us. Join Suede in its very first, Suede Sunday.

Digital content producers like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon are becoming increasingly more and more powerful within the media sphere. With their recent presence in the Oscars with nominations including Manchester by Sea. So how did it all start?

The OG of Silicon content production was and still is Netflix, one of the biggest supplier of on demand digital movies and content in the world. They started their production team on the basis of solving a simple market inefficiency in the movie market, producers were making movies that they wanted and not what the customer wanted. Netflix understood this error and based on their colossal caches of data from their viewer base worked to create a small television series that we have come to know as, House of Cards, one of the most prolific shows of our generation. What made the show pivotal in history is how it was produced contrary to traditional media. A traditional production house, such as Warner Bros, or 20th Century casted based on experience and awareness over the media landscape, but Netflix used analytics. They saw that viewers that saw the original UK version of House of Cards had a statistically anomalous liking to Kevin Spacey along with the fact that the director of the series, David Fincher had one of the highest follow-through (watch from start to end) rates on the whole video library. Along with many more factors Netflix created a show, that not only was tailored to the customer but tailored to an exact viewer base down to their actor preference. This analytical method was tried over, and over again until it had become the golden recipe for success. So successful that they translated this into movies, and even docuseries. It wasn’t long before Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, and soon even Apple experimenting with the same technique.

So where is this going? And does it pose a danger to us?…

Well it depends who you ask and how you choose to move with the flow of information media. For the general consumer it could be the dawn of more media content than ever before that is tailored to their preferences, but at the cost of the artists’ creative freedom. Writers and cast directors will start to have greater restrictions in who they choose to cast, where they film, and how they direct in order to meet their production house’s analytics departments requirements. We already see this with movies such as the Fast and Furious series, where although Dwayne The Rock Johnson was not a slick fit into the series, data showed that his presence would cause an X% increase in revenue, which it did and continued his casting in two more parts after his first appearance. The Johnson Effect, as I’ve coined it, can even be seen in films being more tailored to Chinese audiences, where due to tough restrictions only 20–30 movies from the west can enter China so Hollywood creates films with more China friendly content rather than the typical Kung-Fu bad guy. In Suede’s opinion this new generation of entertainment has come at the cost of originality, where instead of testing new waters all the time through directors like Tarantino and JJ Abrahams we are being defensive in our kiddy pools and playing with our floaters to scared to test the deeper waters.